Why do Black Women Organise?: A comparative analysis of black women's voluntary sector organisations in Britain and their relationship to the state


Information on black women’s voluntary and community organisations in Britain, both past and present, remains limited. The research that does exist has tended to focus on specific issues or on the ideological foundations of black women’s organisations. At the same time, recent years have seen the government give increasing recognition to the black and minority ethnic voluntary sector and its role in tackling social exclusion.

This highly relevant report, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, explores what determines the needs, types and structures of black women’s organisations in England, Scotland and Wales, and examines their relationship with the statutory sector. In their analysis, the authors:

  • establish the basic philosophies of organisation and the context in which organisations are developed;
  • identify how black women’s organisations are structured and the types of services that they provide; and
  • examine the relationships between black women’s organisations and the state, funding patterns and levels, and variations in the services provided for different ethnic groups.

Black women’s organisations have a key role to play in tackling social exclusion, and in the face of considerable obstacles have been achieving impressive results. The changes currently taking place in the voluntary sector, with the introduction of multiple funding agencies and the gradual displacement of local government as the single funding agency, are having marked effects on black women’s organisations, which already exist on a shoestring. The majority of organisations are continuing to adjust to this changing climate. Despite this, there is reason to be optimistic about the future of this unique section of the voluntary sector.

Published with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation